J.G. Reade was Librarian of the Dalhousie Ocean Studies Programme, Dalhousie University, Halifax.
Sarah and her family are Chippewa Indians who have moved away from the reserve and now live in the city. However, the whole family returns to the reserve for special occasions, such as Treaty Days. It is refreshing to find the life of native Indians who have moved to the city described in a book for children, but this particular book is disappointing in that more is not made of the special topic.
The description of the trip to the reserve for the celebration is introduced through the topic of map-making, which Sarah and her friend Ralph are tackling at school. The assignment in the map-making class is to “Find something you have never noticed before” (to record on a map), which in Sarah’s case is the smokehouse by the lake on the reserve, in which her grandfather smokes the fish he has caught.
It is unfortunate that this reader is made to do two things — to provide an introduction to mapping skills and to depict Sarah’s visit to the reserve. The resulting narrative seems a little contrived. It would have been good to have more of Sarah’s perspective on life and to provide more details of the Treaty Days pow wow.
That criticism notwithstanding, I welcome the availability of this kind of material on native Indian children; the treatment of Sarah here is a sympathetic one.